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Airport served by:
McGhee Tyson Airport (TYS)
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Tucked between parallel mountain ranges on the Tennessee River, a spectrum of interesting characters and events has passed through the streets of Knoxville. Take a walk (or riverboat) down memory lane through the historic roads (and rivers) of the city's eclectic past.
Knoxville lies at the heart of the Appalachian cultural area – mountain roots go deep and are tied to the area's surrounding natural beauty. The nearby Great Smoky Mountains National Park was founded in 1933 and has grown to be the most visited National Park in the United States, attracting visitors from around the country.
Knoxville had a magnetic draw long before the National Park days when it served as a frontier to the new west as a resupply station for American pioneers heading west in the 1800s. Riverboats met in Knoxville, giving the growing city a reputation as a rowdy river town. Knoxville later became an important rail line way point as train traffic grew in the United States and was possibly even a stop on the Underground Railroad heading north to freedom.
Cultural walks through Knoxville focus on the historic homes, Appalachian Mountains, local ghosts and civil war history. Knoxville’s more recent accomplishments are visible in the sites and structures of the 1982 World's Fair which brought an estimated 11 million guests. The Sunsphere, the 26-story trademark building of the fair, still stands and provides a 360 degree view of downtown Knoxville.
The fair was considered a great success and elevated Knoxville's reputation from a much earlier publicity hit that occurred in 1948 when it was dubbed America's ugliest city by American journalist John Gunther. The comment created a response to beautify Knoxville's neighbourhoods – this legacy can still be seen today.
Other Knoxville legacies include the region's long connection to bluegrass and country music. The stable of artists with a Knoxville connection include The Everly Brothers, Hank Williams and Dolly Parton. Dolly Parton's family theme park and waterslide is located in nearby Pigeon Forge.
You won't have trouble finding live bluegrass and Americana bands at local Knoxville establishments. The opulent Tennessee Theatre has been restored to its original glory and has shows that suit all tastes. If you get thirsty at the concert, order up a bottle of Mountain Dew – the popular drink is a local creation.
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